The Truth About Catherine Zeta-Jones' Marriage To Michael Douglas

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas are two Hollywood heavyweights who just happen to have been married for over 20 years. Douglas has been acting since the late 1960s, notably joining the cast of "Streets of San Francisco" in 1972, and he hails from a family full of actors and actresses, including both his father, Kirk Douglas, and his mother, Diana Douglas (per Biography). Zeta-Jones, on the other hand, began taking dance lessons as a young child and dropped out of school at the age of 15 to pursue acting full-time (per Biography). She joined the cast of the TV show "The Darling Buds of May" in 1991 and finally took Hollywood by storm when she was cast in 1998's "The Mask of Zorro."

Zeta-Jones and Douglas married in 2000 and, despite their 25-year age gap (they're one of many celebrity couples with the biggest age differences), have had a long-lasting marriage that can be defined as successful by nearly anyone's standards. From having children to Douglas' 2010 cancer diagnosis to Zeta Jones' own diagnosis of bipolar II, the two have seen just about everything — and they're still by one another's side. 

Michael Douglas became interested after he saw Catherine Zeta-Jones in Zorro

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones celebrated their 20th anniversary in November 2020, and to mark the milestone occasion, Douglas shared a nearly three-minute long audio message on his Instagram account in which he detailed exactly how the two met. It turns out he was introduced to Zeta-Jones the same way a lot of Americans were: by being blown away by her performance in "The Mask of Zorro."

Douglas recounted that he decided to shoot his shot a few months later at the Deauville American Film Festival after he noticed that a screening of "Zorro" was on the agenda. "So I asked my assistant: 'Can you find out if Catherine Zeta-Jones is going to be here at the festival and if she's coming alone? And if she is, can maybe I ... have a drink with her?" he shared.

The two ended up having dinner with Zeta-Jones' co-star Antonio Banderas and his then-wife Melanie Griffith, and Douglas took the opportunity to invite Zeta-Jones out for more one-on-one time later that night. She accepted, and the two had a good night together before Douglas told Zeta-Jones, "I'm going to be the father of your children." She left soon after, and Douglas added, "I thought I completely had blown it." Clearly, something must have worked, because two kids and two decades later, the pair are still going strong.

One of their first dates was at a boxing match

When Catherine Zeta-Jones explained to WSJ Magazine how she and Michael Douglas have kept their romance going for two decades, she said that, first and foremost, the two have always been able to have a blast together, and they just enjoy being around one another: "We've never, ever lost our sense of humor, and we enjoy each other's company."

Considering the two prioritize having fun and enjoying one another, it's probably not a surprise that their early dates provided good times for them. Zeta-Jones once revealed on Instagram that the two attended a few boxing matches together when their relationship was still new. She put it in a note to Douglas, "You got me at round one."

Zeta-Jones also told WSJ Magazine that the two are good at knowing when to be together and when to take time for themselves. As she put it, this respect for one another's space combined with their shared humor is the key. "We respect each other's space, and our humor is just long-lasting," she shared.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas got married in 2000

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas got married on November 18, 2000. The wedding was celebrated as quite the affair; the BBC described the event as the "wedding of the year" and detailed the $2 million day at New York's Plaza Hotel. 

It probably comes as no surprise that the wedding details were also super secret. This was in part because Zeta-Jones and Douglas inked a $1.3 million deal with OK! magazine, who secured publishing rights of the big day. Guests were only allowed entry once they were able to show security their hologrammed invites (per the BBC). 

The wedding day also included a very special guest: the pair's then three-month-old son Dylan, who reportedly slept through most of the ceremony. Both parties' parents were in attendance, including Michael Douglas' father, Kirk Douglas, who told the BBC he heartily approved of the union. "I'd marry her myself, but my wife won't let me," he reportedly said. Celebrity guests included Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, Sharon Stone, and Christopher Reeve.

They have two children together

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas are mom and dad to two kids: Dylan and Carys. Douglas is also dad to Cameron, his son with his ex-wife, Diandra Luker, as noted by Closer Weekly. Up until the pandemic, the two were empty nesters, as Dylan had entered college and Carys was attending boarding school. Douglas explained to Closer Weekly in 2019 that the decision for Carys to attend boarding school happened unexpectedly but that he and Zeta-Jones were taking full advantage of it.

After explaining that the family had only recently moved to be much closer to the previous school Carys had attended, he said, "You spend a lot of time talking about your kids ... and then we got over that very quickly!" He added, "And now we're like, 'wow, we can do anything in our schedules without ... obviously the holiday stuff.' ... So we're taking full advantage of that, seeing a lot of shows and traveling a lot."

Douglas and Zeta-Jones are also grandparents! Cameron welcomed daughter Lua in December 2017 (per People).

Michael Douglas has warned their children about becoming actors

Seeing as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are both actors, it's not a huge surprise that both of their children have expressed a strong interest in going into the family business. While speaking to Drew Barrymore, who also comes from a long line of family stars, Zeta-Jones explained that, even though Douglas has explained to their kids that coming into the business as the child of famous people isn't easy, they're still focused on acting — even if it means they have to take a harder road in.

"Michael has said to them what it's like to be 'the daughter of' in the same industry, which I guess is similar if you're in business," she said. "If you are successful in business ... it's not an easy way in. In fact, one has to prove oneself more." Zeta-Jones went on to explain to Drew Barrymore that it's clear the kids have a strong affinity for the profession. "Their love of the craft of acting is so strong," she said. 

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones live in an impressive mansion

Hello! magazine has reported that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas live in upstate New York in an impressive mansion that boasts a gym, an indoor pool, and its own library. The pair own at least two others homes as well, including an apartment in Central Park West in New York City and a house in Zeta-Jones' hometown of Swansea, Wales.

The large home in Irvington, New York is also where the whole family quarantined throughout 2020. Zeta-Jones told Hello! that having everyone together was better than she could have hoped, sharing that they spent a lot of time playing Monopoly. "Just to have the time to be together and to talk, it's been really great," she said. "I've really enjoyed having the whole family together."

Architectural Digest shared that the couple bought the 12,000-square-foot property for $4.5 million in 2019. 

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones went through a terrifying ordeal together

In 2004, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones faced a truly intense situation together. While testifying in court, Douglas claimed that he had been aggressively pursued by a 32-year-old college student named Dawnette Knight. Knight also reportedly targeted Zeta-Jones, sending out a series of threatening letters and phone calls. 

The Evening Standard explained that Zeta-Jones reportedly received phone calls while filming "Ocean's 12" that were so traumatic she called her husband in tears. "She was fainting and couldn't get any air. She showed all the signs of having a nervous breakdown," Douglas shared. "She said to me 'I have to see a doctor' and was very emotional." According to the Orlando Sentinel, the case gained national attention after it was revealed that Knight said she wanted to chop up Zeta-Jones "like meat on a bone and feed her to the dogs."

Ultimately, Knight was sentenced to three years in prison, and Zeta-Jones was given a 10-year restraining order, as reported by Today. The experience weighed heavily on the actress, and she later revealed she began suffering from anxiety while she and her husband were dealing with Knight (via Yahoo!).

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Michael Douglas may have embarrassed Catherine Zeta-Jones when he said this

In 2010, Michael Douglas revealed he had been diagnosed with oral cancer. At the time, Douglas claimed to have throat cancer, though he later admitted that he, in fact, had tongue cancer. While explaining why he tried to cover up his actual diagnosis, Douglas shared that treating his cancer with surgery could have particularly challenging consequences for an actor. He told CNN that the doctor told him, "It's not going to be pretty. You could lose part of your tongue and jaw."

Douglas also made a pretty regretful mistake when he opened up about the cancer, and the mistake continued to plague both him and Catherine Zeta-Jones for years. Douglas first blamed the cancer on oral sex, claiming that he believed that's how he contracted it. He later told Event magazine that both Zeta-Jones and her family were mortified. "It was one of those things ... and I so regretted any embarrassment that it caused Catherine and her family," he said (via The Guardian).

Michael Douglas stood by Catherine Zeta-Jones' side after this diagnosis

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas faced obstacles in 2011 when the actress revealed she had been diagnosed with bipolar II and then promptly checked herself into a clinic as she sought help and treatment. As explained by The Guardian, the condition is referred to as manic depression. Zeta-Jones reportedly began to experience additional stress after Douglas was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

Douglas told Oprah Winfrey that his wife was "outed" while at the treatment facility (per ABC News). He said she planned to keep her diagnosis private but, "she went to go get some help and some other patient probably in there said, 'Hey, you won't believe who's in here now.' And, so, once that happens, I think she felt [it] best to kind of get out the story." Zeta-Jones later told People that coming forward felt good. "If my revelation of having bipolar II has encouraged one person to seek help, then it is worth it," she shared. "There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help."

Sharon Cotliar, an editor at People, told "Good Morning America" that Douglas' diagnosis and Zeta-Jones' subsequent time receiving treatment actually helped the couple grow: "It's been very difficult for them but I think now they are very united, they know what 'for better or for worse' means and they are looking forward to some 'for better.'"

Separation rumors dogged Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas in 2013

Unfortunately for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, their two separate diagnoses weren't the only hurdles they had to overcome. In 2013, rumors that the pair were separating grew from a simmer to a boil. As The Sun published, when Douglas revealed his cancer diagnosis, he also said he was exposed to the HPV that reportedly caused the cancer through oral relations with a woman. Douglas didn't clarify that the relations happened before his marriage, which is said to have upset Zeta-Jones.

Other publications offered further insight, with a source close to the couple explaining to People that the combination of tough experiences is what led to the split: "Any other couple would have split by now. It's a testament to them that they hung on." Another anonymous friend told the magazine that after spending time with Douglas, they believed he wanted to stay married to Zeta-Jones. "It's as though cancer and marriage problems knocked him around and made him a different man," the insider stated.

Another longtime friend, who reportedly has known the couple since they got engaged in 1999, echoed those thoughts, revealing that there was hope for the couple yet.

By 2016, it was clear that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were fine

By 2016, it was clear that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were more than happy to be in a relationship. Zeta-Jones shared a photo to Instagram in October 2016 that showed the family of four brandishing tickets for the Desert Trip Festival, where they went to see the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan among others. 

It's possible that the thing that kept Douglas and Zeta-Jones together is the honesty with which they have always claimed to operate. In 2018, Zeta-Jones explained to W magazine that absolutely everything gets talked about around the family table, including issues about their son going off to school or their daughter sharing her insecurities. Zeta-Jones added that doing so keeps everything out in the open for everyone: "All these conversations get around the table, and then I think you clear the air and everyone knows what's going on. There's no big surprises."

Catherine Zeta-Jones revealed the secret to their long marriage

When a couple has been married for 20 years, it's only natural that people want to know how they make it work. Like many long-term couples, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have had their fair share of questions on exactly that topic. Luckily for the rest of us, every so often, they've actually offered a few tips and answers.

In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter shared that Douglas told the Paley Center's JuJu Chang that he wishes he'd written down more of his life, particularly as he hopes he'll be remembered for being a good husband to Zeta-Jones. He explained, "I wish I'd kept a diary a little more as a sense of a reminder. But I think you just rush along, and when you reach an age where your life slows down, it's too late."

Zeta-Jones has also commented on their marriage and what makes it work. In the end, it comes down to feeling the same way about one another. In 2021, she told WSJ Magazine, "My husband is 25 years older than me; that's not a secret. With any relationship, it wouldn't be normal if there weren't any ups and downs. The constant is love and respect."